‘Game of Thrones’ was an imperfect show that was perfect for its era

In the beginning, it could have been mistaken for a conventional fairy tale about a virtuous man battling the corruption in his kingdom — until Ned Stark (Sean Bean) lost his head.

.. Characters shifted from victims to protagonists to antiheroes in a way that gave some viewers whiplash, a dynamic that came to a head when Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke) and her dragon burned a city in the show’s penultimate episode. “Game of Thrones” was a show about trauma and the consequences of treating women as sexual objects — yet the series had a bad tendency to ogle bits and pieces of minor female characters rather than treat them as people.

..Whether you think “Game of Thrones” was a success or a failure largely depends on what you thought the show was trying to do.

.. “Game of Thrones” debuted in 2011, at an inflection point for American television and American politics. Later-stage Golden Age antihero dramas such as “Mad Men” and “Breaking Bad were heading toward their conclusions and the idea of Republican “war on women” was taking hold on the left. During the series’ run, Hillary Clinton suffered a shocking loss to Donald Trump in the 2016 presidential election; white nationalism surged back into public life; the #MeToo movement exposed the prevalence and impact of sexual violence; climate change took on a new and apocalyptic urgency; and a spike in television production splintered the water-cooler conversation possibly beyond repair.

As a result, “Game of Thrones” took on a prismatic quality. Turn it one way and the series was an argument that trauma gave its female characters moral authority; shift it just slightly, and the show suggested that they couldn’t transcend the damage that had been inflicted on them

..  The White Walkers, the show’s uber-supernatural villains, stood in for the perils of climate change — until they were vanquished with a single blow. The slaves Daenerys liberated in the early seasons of the show were props in a white-savior narrative until they were invoked as proof that she would never break bad. The show’s cultural footprint suggested that rolling out a television show week by week was still the best way to create community around art. Or its viewership numbers, modest by historical standards, could be evidence for an argument that our culture has fragmented beyond repair.

.. And our struggles to figure out whether men such as Jaime Lannister (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) deserve forgiveness for their past bad acts are a lower-stakes version of the questions raised by the early stages of our national reckoning with sexual assault.

.. Another version of “Game of Thrones” might have offered more decisive arguments about the subjects it raised, or avoided ogling and other artistic pitfalls. That show might have become a cult favorite, but without its intellectual ambiguities and spots of bad taste, it never would have become a phenomenon. “Game of Thrones” caught viewers by surprise when it eliminated its supernatural Big Bad so early in its final season and left the characters to work out their messy, entirely human differences. When the credits roll on Sunday, “Game of Thrones” will leave viewers with the same challenge: tackling some of the hardest problems before us without a unifying magical distraction.

House GOP Removes Steve King From Panels Following Comments on White Supremacy

Steve King was stripped of his committee assignments by fellow Republicans for questioning what was wrong with white supremacy in the U.S., and House Democrats took steps to admonish him.

House Republican leaders made the decision Monday night. He had previously sat on the Judiciary panel and Agriculture Committee, an important position for an Iowan.

Mr. King said his words were taken out of context in a newspaper interview, and argued that he was defending western civilization and not white supremacy or nationalism.

“Leader McCarthy’s decision to remove me from committees is a political decision that ignores the truth,” Mr. King said in a statement.

In an article published last week, the New York Times reported Mr. King said in an interview that he supports legal immigrants who fully assimilate to “ ‘the culture of America’ based on values brought to the United States by whites from Europe.”

White nationalist, white supremacist, Western civilization—how did that language become offensive?” Mr. King said in the newspaper interview. “Why did I sit in classes teaching me about the merits of our history and our civilization?”

Two resolutions introduced separately by Democratic Reps. Bobby Rush of Illinois and Tim Ryan of Ohio would censure the lawmaker for the comments he made in the recent interview questioning why “white supremacist” and “white nationalist” are considered offensive. Mr. Rush’s resolution would censure Mr. King for previous comments as well.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) and Democratic leadership decided Monday night to move forward with a resolution by Majority Whip Jim Clyburn (D., S.C.) that would formally disapprove of Mr. King’s comments, but at a lower level than censure. The vote is likely Tuesday, a Democratic leadership aide said.

If one of the censure resolutions is passed by a simple majority, Mr. King would be forced to present himself at the front of the House Chamber for the pronouncement of the censure, which would be read out loud by Mrs. Pelosi.

Mr. King has a long history of criticizing immigrants and supporting white supremacists. His latest comments come as the new Democratic majority is focused on President Trump’s comments about immigrants.

“It’s perpetuating this division in the country that we don’t need,” said Mr. Ryan. “We need to start healing our country. He’s done it enough times, in enough places, that I feel like it rises to the level of the House having to address it.

Mr. King was re-elected in November to a ninth term in his toughest fight in his stronghold Republican district, after top donors dropped him and Democrats put up a formidable opponent. He has already drawn a 2020 primary challenger, state Sen. Randy Feenstra, who cited Mr. King’s “caustic nature” as a reason for his run.

Twenty-three members of the House have been censured for various forms of misconduct, including for using insulting language on the floor, assaulting other members and financial improprieties. No lawmaker has been censured for comments made to a newspaper.

Pelosi says there is ‘interest’ in House in acting against Rep. Steve King

Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Friday left open the possibility of House action to punish Rep. Steve King over his history of inflammatory remarks as the Iowa Republican’s recent defense of white nationalism created a firestorm.

King, who won a ninth term in Congress in November, lamented in an interview with the New York Times that the term had become a pejorative one.

White nationalist, white supremacist, Western civilization — how did that language become offensive?” King said in the interview, which was published Thursday.

King later issued a statement and addressed the issue in a speech on the House floor Friday in which he sought to walk back his remarks. He said he rejects “those labels and the evil ideology that they define” and proclaimed himself “simply a Nationalist.”

A number of Democrats are calling on House leaders to consider a resolution to censure King, a vote that would put Republicans on record.

.. King’s interview prompted a rebuke from Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), the No. 3 Republican in the House, who said in a tweet Thursday morning, “These comments are abhorrent and racist and should have no place in our national discourse.”

She was soon followed by House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.), who told reporters in a pen-and-pad that it was “offensive to try to legitimize those terms.” But Scalise also praised King’s later statement.

“I think it was important that he rejected that kind of evil, because that’s what it is. It’s evil ideology,” Scalise said.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) also issued a statement Thursday evening in which he sharply criticized King’s comments to the Times.

“Everything about white supremacy and white nationalism goes against who we are as a nation,” McCarthy said. “Steve’s language is reckless, wrong, and has no place in our society. The Declaration of Independence states that ‘all men are created equal.’ That is a fact. It is self-evident.”

Both McCarthy and Scalise were silent in October when asked for comment on incendiary remarks King had made then. At the time, Rep. Steve Stivers (R-Ohio), then the chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee, was the only member of House GOP leadership to rebuke King. (Cheney had not yet been elected to her position as conference chair.)